Pays to be fast in practice as rain today in Alabama prevents qualifying at Talladega.
Rain forced cancellation of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Saturday at the Talladega Superspeedway with starting positions for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 set based on Friday’s fastest practice speeds.
Aric Almirola topped Friday’s speed charts with a speed of 202.000 miles per hour in the Charter Ford. His rapid lap puts him on the pole with Jeff Burton starting alongside after a sizzling lap of 201.987 mph.
Almirola’s teammate Marcos Ambrose put the DeWalt Ford in the third spot and Martin Truex Jr. took the fourth slot in the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.
Said Almirola about gaining the coveted pole and the first choice on pit stalls, “To have both of our cars up there shows how well we work together in the draft. We went into practice with a plan and me and Marcos (Ambrose) got a big run on the pack and put up a good lap. We knew there was a small chance for rain today and we thought it would be good to put up a good lap just it case it did rain. We had a plan and stuck with it, and anytime you can do that, it is good. A great run for us.
“A great run for us, and am looking forward to the race. We haven’t been as good with the speedway stuff as we would like but our car has speed. Now we have to go race for 500 miles and avoid the chaos.”
Almirola comes to Talladega with a new crew chief, Sammy Johns, after Todd Parrott, the previous crew chief, failed NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy and was suspended indefinitely.
Parrott did prepare the Ford for Talladega and according to Ambrose, everyone in the shop are working together in the preparation of cars.
“My outlook is like everyone else’s, as I hope to miss the big wreck,” Burton commented. “Hopefully, we will be there at the end. It doesn’t matter where you start here, but the choice of pit stalls allows for clean in and out on pit road. In the spring here, everyone thought it was going to rain, but I couldn’t do any better than 30th in practice and couldn’t figure out how to run a fast pace. Yesterday, I was second, which confirms that I don’t know what I am doing.”
Added Ambrose, “We had a plan going in, and we knew what we wanted to do. We played our strategy really well as a group, and we are getting the benefit of it for tomorrow. We have shown speed but we can’t guaranty speed on Sunday, although it allows us to stay out of the riff-raff for the first five or six laps.”
Leading the 13-driver Chase field, Carl Edwards will start fifth with teammate Greg Biffle sixth.
David Ragan and Chase stalwart Dale Earnhardt Jr. gained the fourth row with Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.
Other Chase contenders and their starting positions are Jimmie Johnson (11th), Matt Kenseth (12th), Ryan Newman (17th), Joey Logano (18th), Jeff Gordon (19th), Clint Bowyer (20th), Kyle Busch (27th), Kasey Kahne (28th), Kurt Busch (30th) and Kevin Harvick (33rd).
44 cars were entered with only Sam Hornish Jr. failing to make the starting field. He practiced 18th in Friday’s session.